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Baltimore Area Catholics Mark Holy Father’s Final Day as Pope; Holy See Announces Protocols

Students, faculty and staff from School of the Cathedral will gather for a special Mass at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen, 5200 N. Charles Street, at 1 p.m. on Thursday, February 28, in honor of Pope Benedict XVI’s final day as Pontiff. The Mass will conclude at 2 p.m., which marks the official beginning of the Sede Vacante (vacant see).

Prior to that, employees at the Archdiocese’s central services offices will gather together at the Catholic Center, 320 Cathedral Street, at 10:30 a.m. to watch live coverage of the farewell ceremonies in Rome as Pope Benedict departs from the Vatican via helicopter. Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Secretary of State for the Holy See, and others will bid the Pope farewell before a detachment of the Swiss Guard in the San Damaso Courtyard of the Vatican Apostolic Palace. Earlier in the day, the Holy Father is expected to meet in the Clementine Hall with those cardinals currently in Rome.

The Holy See announced Tuesday that Pope Benedict will be referred to as Pope Emeritus or Pontiff Emeritus following the end of his pontificate. He will keep the name, “His Holiness, Benedict XVI” and his ring, called the “Fisherman’s Ring,” will be destroyed along with the lead seal of his pontificate.

The dean of the College of Cardinals will send a letter to all cardinals on March 1 officially calling them to Rome for meetings or congregations that precede the conclave, where the election of the new Pope occurs. The date of the start of the conclave will be set by the cardinals during the preliminary meetings, which are likely to begin next week.